Posts Tagged ‘Nara’

Asahi Shimbun Japanese version reported that Yamada, the governor of Kyoto prefecture paid a secret visit to the small town of Kyotamba on March 28, in order to ask its mayor to accept incinerated radioactive waste and dispose of it, on the basis that the incinerator output would be better monitored there and that Kyotamba has 9 hectares of land as well as a river where to dump radioactive ashes. The mayor replied that he would think about the proposal positively, which is a way to acknowledge agreement provided that the brown envelope is fat enough.

Actual incineration would take place in undisclosed facilities in Kyoto prefecture, such as in Maizuru, Kyoto and Kameoka. Governor Yamada makes no secret about his plan to accept radioactive waste for incineration, but every move he makes towards its implementation is undemocratic and behind the scenes, a strategy also used by Goshi Hosono, the Minister of Environment who is pushing for nationwide spread of radioactive contamination.  (Updated on 2012/04/10)

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On 2012 March 19, The Asahi Shimbun reported that the “city of Osaka, the largest shareholder of Kansai Electric Power Co., will call on the utility to abolish all of its reactors “at the earliest possible time” and today, Mainichi Daily News commented that Osaka had “stirred ripples”. Articles are reproduced below. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s suggestion to phase out of nuclear power, surely surprised KEPCO investors but also citizens for its unusual thoughtfulness.

Kansai is the western region of Japan where Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara cities lie and, depending on definition, the nuclear power plant shore-lined prefecture of Fukui, where a 7.3 magnitude earthquake killed 1% of population and completely damaged 79% of buildings in 1948. Besides, prevalent winds blow from Fukui towards the huge drinking water Biwako reservoir and aforementioned Kansai cities. Under the radioactive fallout in case of such an earthquake would also be prefectures of Gifu and Aichi, an industrial heartland centered on Nagoya city, where Toyota, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Toray Industries (worldwide leader in the carbon fiber industry that should make Boeing Dreamliner fly someday) are based. A new powerful earthquake in Fukui would probably relegate Japan a few ladders down the economic rankings. Kansai is already under severe economic stress – it always was but for a brief decade of national euphoria called the “bubble”.

Since about 30 years ago, poor Japanese regions exchanged time and again their votes and security against subventions and nuclear power plants. Whenever subventions would dry up, they would agree for a new reactor building. Nowadays that these are idled and that subventions have run out, poor regions cannot start a new cycle and are pushing and being pulled to ramp up their radioactive waste “management” business. In the same vote buyout scheme as for nuclear power plants, over-sized incinerator plants have been built and left unused due to their capacity threshold being over the actual amount of waste. Poor prefectures now plan to upgrade these little used, dioxin-spitting facilities so that they could operate at a wider range of waste quantities and include some kind of filtering for radiation. This scheme represents a large economic boost promise in terms of construction work, which is the main employment outside large cities – and under the control of yakuza gangs, who request some sustained business to replace the drop in their recruiting services for nuclear plant workers.

Radioactive waste are largely above what is considered as “low-level waste” worldwide and its incineration in current facilities turn their prefecture into secondary radioactive sources, the primary being Fukushima, still emitting as of 2012 March 22, a year after. Current secondary radioactive sources include 23 wards in Tokyo, Tomakomai (Hokkaido) and Shimada (Shizuoka, where Japanese green tea comes from).

Many prefectures have requested to become secondary radioactive sources, including places where the transportation hazard, time and cost had prevented the Japanese government to push for it such as Okinawa. However, Okinawa is surviving only by the presence of the US army and its underlying economy is threatened by a possible redeployment in Japan, in Guam or elsewhere. Tourism has been declining since about 5 years ago in Okinawa and will not pick up when it will effectively become a secondary radioactive source. Food in supermarkets in Okinawa come from all over Japan as it does not produce much besides beef which become labeled “Kobe” beef after spending 1 year in that heavily industrialized city. Okinawa cows are rather skinny so it must be quite a terrible feeding process that turn them into extra-fatty meat one year later in Kobe warehouses. There have been some scandals of radioactive wood used to bake pizzas in Okinawa, schools have been forced by parents to cancel radioactive snowball gifts, some vegetation like mosses from irradiated areas have been planted in Okinawa, etc. Okinawa is not a nuclear-free land anymore: this concept does not apply to any Japanese territory anymore one year after the disaster. As an advice to nuclear refugees from the no man’s land, if you cannot leave Japan, it is safer to settle down in cities where you can work to sustain a healthier lifestyle, not necessarily to the far end of the archipelago where they have no job; no sense about radio-protection; no clean food choice – and where you will be stuck when they start incinerating radioactive waste.

How does the new denuclearization scheme fit in with the irradiated waste incineration plan and is it for real? Kansai is searching for ways to revitalize its broken economy and incineration is one leg. The other leg is nuclear decommissioning, a potentially profitable business. It takes 5 years for nuclear combustible to cool down, under active controlled systems (or not so controlled systems). Then the proper decommissioning operations begin (and probably never really end). As an actual example, if we look at Sellafield in the UK, a mere 2 square mile facility, the official planning states that decommissioning and closure of the site is planned for 2120 (right: 108 years from now). After this stage, management of radioactive materials is forever. Therefore, decommissioning of the 3 reactors in Mihama, 4 in Oi and 4 in Takahama – and maybe Monju / Tsuruga – all in Fukui prefecture and globally called the Nuclear Ginza, could create a 300 years business, not including the storage and monitoring of million-year long radioactive waste. It could easily give a job to anyone and sustain the local economy. Additional benefits would come from the development of health care – did we mention that Osaka was a biotech center ?

Japanese pharmaceutical companies had trouble to compete globally because their drugs are not properly tested and have resulted in accidents and because they lack innovation. However, in the grand Osaka renewal scheme of joint radioactive waste incineration and nuclear decommissioning, there would be plenty of test subjects and Japan would have an incomparable lead in radiation-induced diseases, even though they would not be marketed as such: auto-immune diseases such as the Kawasaki syndrome, pneumonia, heart attacks, leukemia and all sorts of cancers, or any other kinds of affections described by Pr. Bandazhevsky, even in children (sic).

How is it that decommissioning would make the population sick? Nuclear reactor decommissioning is a task forecast to take over 1 century in the case of Sellafield but nuclear projects always get behind schedule (Areva EPR project in Finland as a relevant example). As a rule of thumb, you can at least double the time (in the case for Olkiluoto, Finland, Areva started in 2005, due to be completed in 4 years – now maybe in 9 years, probably 12) and since it is impossible to rule out wars, economic depressions, natural disasters and social unrest over the period of a century, it could take 4 to 500 years to carry out. The probability of the job being properly done to the end is marginal and our grandchildren, if they ever live, will most likely have to deal with no man’s lands in every place there used to be a nuclear power plant in the 20th century. Working in a nuclear power plant make people sick, they have in Japan, as well documented, not only in Fukushima. Work ethics are shoddy here and tasks are carried out by the 6th level of untrained sub-contractors aka yakuza firms. Nuclear Ginza and other locations in Japan like Tokaimura and Genkai accumulate accidents and are regularly leaking radioactive material, not surprisingly. Now let us project this over the next 500 years for a large segment of society busy cleaning a mess and adding to it at the same time: everyone would get sick, even if Hosono, Noda and Edano, the devilish Trinity as it were, were not working so hard to distribute contaminated food over all the territory – which they are. Mutations get transmitted to people who are not involved in the multi-generational task, weakening the whole society. As a side-note, it is of course impossible to decommission Fukushima nuclear plant within 40 years: it will never be really clean, no matter the official whitewash.

Recently 2 Japanese researchers apologized because they had taken some bone-marrow samples from cancer patients during surgical operations without anybody knowing: with radiation-induced diseases, all Japanese medical researchers would be able to experiment, publish their results and test new drugs on unsuspecting patients. When the Japanese war criminal in charge for human live dissection and experimentation during the war became the head of the top medical institute in Tokyo and was never bothered except for a moment by the Chinese woman who recognized him, anything can happen. Unit 731, Masaji Kitano and Green Cross all over again. Kansai, with Nuclear Ginza, you invested in a future treasure trove for your biotech and pharmaceutical industry (sic) ! Just as some people do not get black humor, let us note here that we are being sarcastic and we do not wish this nightmarish scenario to happen, quite the contrary but we are at a loss as to how prevent it. Japan has yet to come to term with its dark past and its present shows that it is never far behind – humor is a way to get some relief in the terrible situation we are now, and black humor can be offensive. Current Japanese politics are just as offensive.

So it could be for real and it would be the least damaging, as the alternative would be to wait until the next great Fukui earthquake and a fireworks over Nuclear Ginza.

Another possibility is that Hashimoto does not really intend to denuclearize Kansai, but is only trying to gain more KEPCO shares, some financial compensation or a special investor status from KEPCO for Osaka city in exchange for a time extension, a percentage increase in nuclear-produced electricity or such compromise.

Whichever, the pain only begins.

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This post follows up Kyoto Firms To Incinerate Radioactive Waste published last month on SurvivalJapan. Mainstream Asahi newspaper (Japanese version only) reported on October 26 that 7 cities and villages in Kyoto Prefecture eventually withdrew their former acceptance of nuclear waste. These are mainly, beside Kyoto city, along Road 9 heading north-west to Tottori from Kyoto (山陰道, i.e. San-in Road, the “Road in the Shade of Mountains”) : Kameoka, Nantan, Kyotanba (village), Fukuchiyama. The city of Maizuru and the village of Ine, on the western side of Wakasa Bay on the Sea of Japan (“Nuclear Ginza”) also declined to receive the irradiated earthquake waste on second thoughts. The reason for this turnaround is that public safety regarding the levels of irradiation of earthquake rubble could not be guaranteed to the citizens. Kyoto alone had initially accepted to incinerate annually 50,000 tons of waste and eventually declared that it was not acceptable. Fukuchiyama had previously agreed upon 1,500 tons. Meanwhile, in the Soraku district south-east of Kyoto city, not 10 km south of Biwako lake which gives tap water to Kyoto, some villages along the Road 163 (Yamato Highway) such as Kasagi and Minamiyamashiro, as well as the town of Wazuka, answered in a survey that they could receive 70 tons of waste, provided that safety was insured. Wazuka is situated in the middle of wooded mountains surrounded by a ring of golf courses (more than 30): if the Soraku district aims to keep the revenue from their golf patrons, it should think twice before acting on. It could also alienate neighbouring Tsuzuki district and Nara golfers. Besides, tourism will be negatively affected in Kyoto and Nara cultural capital cities if any of Kyoto village or city processes the nuclear waste.

It should be noted that although municipalities retracted, the nuclear disaster minister’s, M. Hosono, new tack is to get regional private sector involved. Therefore it remains unclear whether nuclear waste will hit Kyoto or not by means of companies such as the 4 subsidiaries of TEPCO mentioned in our previous post.

The Asahi article is reproduced hereafter along with a Google automated translation:

震災ゴミ 受け入れ撤回

2011年10月26日

                             7市町「市民へ説明困難」

東日本大震災で出た災害廃棄物の受け入れ問題で、当初前向きな姿勢を示していた府内7市町が方針を撤回した。今月、環境省の再調査に「受け入れ困難」などと答えた。放射性物質への不安を背景に、市民らに安全性を説明できないと判断したという。

受け入れの意向を撤回したのは京都市、舞鶴市、福知山市、亀岡市、伊根町、船井郡衛生管理組合(南丹市、京丹波町)。環境省が4月に実施した調査では、受け入れ可能な廃棄物の種類と量を回答していた。

京都市は、生ごみや家具類を年間5万トン受け入れられるとしていたが、今回は「受け入れは検討していない」と答えた。市は8月の「五山送 り火」で岩手県陸前高田市の松の薪(まき)を燃やす計画を進めたが、放射性物質の検出で断念した経緯がある。担当者は「現状では、市民に安全性を説得する 材料がない」と話す。

舞鶴市の担当者は「当初は被災地が大変な中、全国の自治体が努力すべきだと考えて手を挙げたが、市民への説明は難しい」と言う。伊根町は 「専門家の意見を聴くといった準備ができておらず、慎重な対応が必要と判断した」。船井郡衛生管理組合も「地元の理解がないと受け入れられない」と説明し ている。

福知山市は当初、生ごみなら年間1500トン受け入れられるとしていた。担当者は「今回の調査はがれき処理を想定しており、対応は困難だ」と言う。

一方、相楽東部広域連合(和束町、笠置町、南山城村)は調査に対し、年間70トンのがれき受け入れが可能と答えた。担当者は「災害はお互い様だから、できるだけ受け入れたい。もちろん、安全性の確保が大前提だ」と話す。

環境省は今回、災害廃棄物を焼却する場合は、放射性セシウム濃度が焼却炉の種類によって1キロあたり240~480ベクレル以下であれば 問題ないとする指標を自治体側に示した。それでも、「国の基準は根拠がわからない」(亀岡市)との声も出ている。環境省の担当者は「受け入れ困難とした自 治体にもデータを提供し、今後も検討を呼びかけたい」と話している。

Google Translate:

Withdraw acceptance quake debris

Seven cities and towns, “difficult to explain to the public”

Acceptance of waste at issue in the earthquake disaster came East, the mayor withdrew the seven policy Funai initially showed a positive attitude. This month, the Ministry review of the “difficult to accept,” replied the like. Behind the fear of radioactive material, it was determined that they can not explain to the public safety.

Intention to withdraw acceptance of the Kyoto Maizuru, Fukuchiyama, Kameoka, Ine-cho, Funai-gun health management associations (to the south, Tamba city today). In a survey conducted in April by the Ministry, was to answer the types and quantities of acceptable waste.

Kyoto, which had accepted 50,000 tons of garbage annually and furniture, was “not considered acceptable,” said. The city in August, “Gozan ceremonial bonfire” pine wood 陸前高田 city in Iwate Prefecture (Maki) promoted the burn plan, there are circumstances in the detection of radioactive material was abandoned. Person is “at present, there is no material to convince the public safety,” he said.

Maizuru city officials “initially in the disaster area is hard, raised their hands but believes that local governments should strive, hard to explain to the citizens,” he says. Ine city is “not ready to hear the opinions of experts and has determined that the prudent action is needed.” Funai-gun health management associations also “unacceptable and there is no understanding of the local” has been explained.

Fukuchiyama originally had 1500 tons per year and if garbage is accepted. Clerk, “the survey process expects rubble, is difficult to support,” he says.

Meanwhile, the eastern regional coalition Sagara (city only, Kasagi town, village 南山城) is to survey respondents can accept 70 tons of rubble. Person is “a disaster from O互I様 it, to accept as possible. Of course, it is prerequisite to ensure the safety,” he said.

Ministry of Environment Now, if the incineration of waste disasters are indicators that local authorities are shown in the following problem if the 240-480 Bq per kg depending on the type of incinerator concentration of radioactive cesium. Still, “do not know the basis for national standards” (Kameoka) and they have a voice. MOE officials “to provide data to local governments and difficult to accept, consider further appeal to” he said.

Tourists are well advised to avoid altogether Tokyo and the whole north-east of Japan, although visiting Osaka – Kyoto – Nara area, i.e. Kansai, and south-east remain safe as of today, provided extreme caution is paid to food origin. This can prove tricky as tourists usually eat out and Japanese cuisine, one of the best in the world, takes a large place in the tourist experience. However, the authorities’ mismanagement of the Fukushima crisis brought down a culinary disaster with half of the country’s fresh produce turned into nuclear waste distributed nationwide, and TEPCO managed to pollute the Pacific Ocean to such an extent that anything from it, including of course sushi, should be out of anyone’s diet whose life expectancy is higher than the next five years. I highly recommend renting a place with a kitchen and making your own food with utmost care to labelling. Most of all, leave your children at home. If visiting Japan still makes sense to you and you are taking all necessary precautions, keep in mind that your return flight will serve food from Japan with “unknown” origin on board, even if you are flying with a foreign airline. I strongly advise that you take your own food on-board whenever possible and complain to your airline about putting their flying staff and passengers at risk. If you think this is an exaggeration, picture yourself leaving Minsk just seven months after Chernobyl disaster contaminated the whole Belarus and being served local food on board.

On a recent trip to Europe flying with Lufthansa, I was amazed that not only Japanese but also the German crew was totally oblivious of this severe threat. After my explanation, a crew member was nice enough to serve me some remnants from their incoming flight, i.e. two frankfurters, four bananas and two oranges and some cheese and black bread which was all I ate during the 12 hour or so flight. Luckily for me, I was the only one to raise the issue this time – or I would have had nothing but orange or tomato juice to sustain me. Back to Japan, I was  concerned while eating spinach, a radio-friendly vegetable, especially as some onigiri rice balls labelled in Japanese were available during the flight and some sushi rolls and cold soba noodles were served with some wasabi / horse-radish paste as entrees – but a crew member reassured me that everything came from Germany notwithstanding. I took his word and try to sleep on it with the help of a Warsteiner beer, which amazed me by the simplicity of its content compared to the incredible brew which is served in Japan under the name “beer” (not even mentioning the various substitutes): malt, hops, yeast and water. Here is a picture of my frugal plate below. If you believe that their high potassium-40 content makes eating 4 bananas as dangerous as Fukushima rice and Ibaraki spinach, you are mistaken and should continue to learn about radioactivity. (more…)